Imagine spending an evening in an immersive space, in which beloved characters entertain you with a show that complements a meal themed to their production. The entire experience makes you feel like a welcomed character in their imaginary world, rather than some anonymous, passive observer of a show on a screen or a stage.
That's Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure, one of three rotational dining experiences on the Disney Cruise Line's new Disney Wish.
The evening starts with a walk through the corridors of Arendelle Castle, created in a Deck 5 hallway on the Wish by Disney's Imagineers. This is where that Art History class in college pays off, as you can get references such as Disney's knock-off of Fragonard's "The Swing."
We are here to celebrate the engagement of Queen Anna and Kristoff with a multi-course meal accompanied by live performances from several beloved "Frozen" characters, including Elsa, Olaf, Oaken, and the aforementioned Anna and Kristoff. Two original characters complete the cast to provide additional musical interludes as we order and eat.
The celebration takes place on a large, low stage in the middle of the 694-seat dining room that is decorated to feel like a grand hall in Arendelle Castle, complete with a view of the sea. Oaken has expanded his Trading Post and Sauna business and is now running Oaken's Hearty Party Planning Services, which is putting on tonight's show.
Expect plenty of music, including the hits you would expect from a "Frozen"-themed production. But Oaken throws a few curves, too, including a delightful "bachelor party" moment when he and Kristoff - not Elsa - have a go at "Let It Go."
The show also includes the best live version of Olaf I have seen from Disney - a stunning, well-articulated, true-to-scale animatronic that rides on a cart around the stage, and later, around the room to greet guests at their tables.
Disney entertainment leaders confirmed that the show will include additional special effects that are missing starting at the 10:30 mark in the video above, so the show should be even better when Disney Wish begins its public sailings later this month.
So what about the dinner in this dinner show? Our table ordered two appetizers, four entrees, and four desserts, and the unanimous verdict was that the appetizers stole the show here.
For those appetizers, we chose Anna's Koldtboard - a selection of chilled seafood, and Elsa's Royal Baked Scallops - two scallops in a tarragon bisque, served under a pastry dome that reminded me of the Soupe aux truffes V.G.E. at the still-closed Monsieur Paul in Epcot's France pavilion.
I love fresh dill and I love tarragon, so with those as the most two prominent herbs flavoring these selections, the appetizers set a high standard for what would be our first dinner on the Disney Wish.
For our entrees, the table selected Pan-Seared Chilean Sea Bass,
Juniper Spice Roasted Chicken Breast,
and Garlic & Thyme Roasted Beef Rib-Eye.
If you are saying to yourself, "that looks more like a prime rib than a ribeye steak," congratulations - you think like a member of the Niles family, 'cause we all said the same thing. But it was a nice beef dinner.
Our table's favorite was the Sea Bass, however. The accompanying mustard sauce enhanced the inherently mild flavor of the fish, which was nicely cooked and not overdone, as happens too often in restaurants doing this level of volume. The adorning scallop added another nice bite, though as we mentioned with 1923 yesterday, the listed vegetables here also came in bite-size portions. If you want more greens with your meal, add a salad. Disney's rotational dinners are included with the fare, so there's no charge to order more.
The chicken tasted fine. Pretty standard, with a mushroom ragout that didn't bring out anything in the chicken. The accompanying "Duck Confit Double-fried Potatoes" lacked the rich flavor we had hoped for and really needed some salt to boost their taste.
Swedish meatballs are one of our long-time family favorites, so I ordered the Arendelle Kjottkake with great anticipation, hoping that Disney's chefs would put my humble home efforts to shame. Unfortunately - or fortunately, depending upon your point of view - it turns out that I make better Swedish meatballs than this.
These were too dense to cut with a fork, unlike the tender meatballs whose recipe I took from a Cooks Illustrated article many years back. The dill we loved on the seafood gave these meatballs an oddly sweet note that might have worked well with the dish, had we been able to taste anything else. No one wanted more than one bite.
Other entree options (that we did not order) included King Agnarr's Dry-rubbed Roasted Pork Tenderloin,
and Queen Iduna's Potate Lefse, from the menu's vegetarian options.
And how about this sparkly drink?
Throughout our meal, our eyes caught several towering mint-chip sundaes being delivered to squealing kids across the room. So when it was time for dessert, we had to ask for It's Elsa's Coronation Sundae!
The "Signature Dessert" here is Troll Family's Rock Chocolate Bar.
And we had to order a Kvaefjordkake, if for no other reason than the name. (It's a Butter Cake with Baked Almond Meringue, Vanilla Cream, and Berry Compote.)
Our final dessert select was the Norwegian Pancake Roulade.
The chocolate bar was our winner, though it could have used some additional flavor to balance it, as we could not pick up the promised Hibiscus in the meringue. We thought the Kvaefjordkake was a bit dry, and while we all loved the mint-chip ice cream in the sundae, the marshmallows in the chocolate at its bottom had become too cold and hard by the time we got down there, foreshadowing the problem we would have with the brownie bites in our sundae at 1923 the next night. Sprinkle the dry ingredients atop sundaes - don't bury them under the ice cream and sauces.
I don't know what we were expecting from the Norwegian Pancake Roulade, with its description of "Pancake, Lingonberry Jam, Gjovik White Chocolate Cheesecake," but the dollop in the center was best and hilariously described by one Niles family member as "Babybel cheese dusted in sugar."
Perhaps we should have just ordered another round of the Koldtboard, instead.
After the show ended and we were eating our desserts, we watched the stage next to our table quickly fill with dancing children from around the room, who were trying their best to keep Oaken's party going as their parents struggled to leave. Send my congratulations to Oaken on a job well done. You know it's been a great party when no one wants to leave the dance floor.
In retrospect, Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure was my favorite experience aboard the Disney Wish. A great space, a great show, wonderful service and some outstanding food - what's not to like? (Okay, other than the meatballs.) For someone who thought they had had their fill of everything "Frozen," I gladly would walk down that hallway again for another evening with Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure.
For more of our coverage from the ship: All Aboard the Disney Cruise Line's New Disney Wish
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